supplier: Cole Carbide Industries
end user: Argus Machine Co. Ltd.
Sometimes it’s your way or the highway. When you make critical parts and components for the Canadian and global oil and gas industry, being more demanding is just part of doing business.
Argus Machine Co. Ltd. of Edmonton makes critical parts and components for the oil and gas industry in Canada and abroad. Products include their own line of pigging valves, pressure switches, emergency shutdown packages and more.
Established in 1958, the company now operates out of a 9,290+ sq m (100,000+ sq ft) facility. Services include API, OCTG and Premium threading, as well as welding.
The threading work is an important part of the company’s operations. Argus has more than 35 CNC lathes and 10 conventional machines but it’s the inserts that really make the difference, says plant supervisor Mike Bagga, who’s been with Argus for more than 15 years.
“We’ve been using TNMA style threading inserts from Cole Carbide for accessory, coupling, tubing and casing threading,” Bagga says. “They’re custom ground, custom made for us by Cole. We do a lot of premium connections, ones we’ve achieved qualifications for, over a dozen different types of profiles.”
While Cole or the distributor, Thomas Skinner, often has what’s needed on the shelf, a lot of the time inserts must be custom made. When that happens, it can take several weeks before the inserts arrive, so timing and planning is crucial. There’s no alternative, considering the difficult profiles Argus must cut, as Bagga explains.
“Proprietary connections require custom flank angles, different thread depths, a wide variety of taper, and having to maintain pitch—all the while having a ten-thousandth of an inch tolerance you have to maintain.”
The Cole Carbide inserts have been the choice at Argus for more than ten years, Bagga says. There are other companies that can do the same kind of custom work, but Bagga says Cole’s inserts perform better, and the operators simply prefer them, for several reasons.
“We use their threading inserts on a wide range of material grades,” Bagga says. “The product Cole supplies outperform competitors.”
There’s a time savings involved. Bagga says that using the custom TNMA style inserts reduces the amount of changing out that’s required during machining and cuts the amount of time operators must spend indexing corners. Bagga estimates that the Cole inserts have increased productivity by 10 to 20 per cent, and that Argus can run faster than other manufacturers while at the same time reducing failures and downtime. The inserts make the operators more productive, he says.
“If they can go a whole shift or even half a shift without indexing a corner, it’s great for them because it increases productivity. Imagine you’re paying $40 American for an insert and you only have to index once or twice a shift instead of three or four times. It keeps your costs down, especially when you multiply that by half a dozen machines running a product line. And the parts that come out of the machine have less deviation, less deformation; you get fewer rejected parts.”
In addition to precision measuring equipment, Argus also employs an optical comparator for post production quality control on finished parts—and on the Cole inserts when they come into the shop—using a clear mylar sheet with the part or insert profile.
“We take our inserts and magnify it 50 times and place the mylar up on the comparator, so we’re looking at it magnified 50 times and making sure there’s no deviation. You can see every detail. When we check the inserts, the mylar we use has the detail of the profile, and we use the optical comparator to make sure the profile of the insert matches what’s on the mylar.”
There’s a lot at stake. Some of the parts that come to Argus for threading are prebuilt and cost many thousands of dollars. A faulty insert may result in a critical component being scrapped. So Argus checks the inserts carefully when they arrive, even though Cole has already put them through its own QA before shipping.
That double control is well worth it, Bagga says.
“The last thing you want to do is purchase inserts, place them into the tool room where the operator grabs them and starts machining a $20K customer part… and then find out the insert wasn’t manufactured correctly. In more than ten years, I haven’t seen any defects with the TNMAs from Cole.”